Why Do Entrées with Roasted Vegetables Earn 27% More?
May 23, 2022
Inflation is hitting operators hard, forcing increases in menu prices to offset the rising cost of food and labor. But as menu prices rise, the dining public is beginning to balk at the cost of dining out, putting operators in an untenable position.
If you can’t continue to raise prices, what can you do to protect your margins and revenue?
You could substitute cheaper alternatives for more expensive options or cut back your portion sizes. But those moves aren’t going to inspire much customer loyalty.
Instead, what if you substituted an ingredient that increases the perceived value of your menu items to justify higher prices—and lowered your labor costs at the same time?
That’s the value of frozen roasted vegetables. In a 2021 study of menus, entrées with roasted vegetables commanded 27% more than those with steamed vegetables.1
Premium roasted products—like Simplot RoastWorks® Flame-Roasted Vegetable Blends and Fruit—can help you capture premium prices, reduce prep to heat and serve, and delight your customers all at the same time.
Why roasted vegetables command premium prices in restaurants
According to Datassential, 81% of diners like or love roasting—and for good reason.2 Roasting is well known to enhance and intensify the natural flavors in food, especially vegetables and fruit. Exposure to open heat caramelizes the sugars within and mellows strong flavors into rich, multilayered perfection, adding depth and complexity to the overall dish.
Roasting has a similarly positive effect on appearance. Roasted vegetables simply look more upscale with earthier colors and slight charring, conveying the impression that the kitchen took more time and care in their preparation.
“Most customers don’t take the time to roast vegetables at home,” says Michael Zeller, Corporate Executive Chef at Simplot. “So they’re more likely to be perceived as something special by people when they’re dining out.”
Frozen roasted vegetables reduce labor in foodservice
If roasted vegetables offer so many advantages, why aren’t more restaurants offering them? In a word, labor.
Roasting vegetables from scratch is one of the more time-consuming tasks in any kitchen thanks to the numerous steps involved. First, you have to wash, seed, stem and, in some cases, peel the produce. Next you need to slice and dice them to a consistent piece size, trimming any blemishes and bruises. Then you have to drizzle them with olive oil and season them before putting them into the oven, broiler or grill.
With hourly wages now exceeding $20 per hour in many markets, making roasted vegetables from scratch doesn’t make a lot of economic sense. The real challenge, however, is getting a consistent finished product from scratch day after day.
“Different people cooking means different piece sizes, different blend ratios, different degrees of roasting,” says Chef Zeller. “It’s almost impossible to get the consistency that frozen offers.”
Premium, frozen roasted vegetable blends are right on trend
Keeping your menu current with today’s trends is as important as ever, and the RoastWorks® line of products currently offers more than 30 on-trend products, including roasted potatoes, vegetables and fruit, in straight packs and blends. Some highlights include:
Simplot RoastWorks® Flame-Roasted Corn & Jalapeño Blend: This flame-roasted sweet and white corn is seasoned with jalapeño, green onion, garlic, cilantro and spices for just the right amount of heat. Versatile across dayparts and cuisine types, it serves as a delicious side on its own or as part of a recipe like Cornbread & Jack Fruit “Pulled Pork“ Salad.
Simplot RoastWorks® Roasted Root Vegetable Blend: A hearty blend that capitalizes on the rising popularity of six different root vegetables. Lightly seasoned with rosemary, thyme and sage. Just heat and serve in dishes like Braised Pork and Roasted Root Vegetables with Fruit Compote.
Simplot RoastWorks® Flame-Roasted Fuji Apples: These Ready-to-Eat (RTE) sliced Fuji apples are roasted crisp-tender and lightly seasoned with cinnamon and sugar. Ideal across the breakfast menu, pizza, or topped with streusel and ice cream. Consider a dish like Salted Caramel Roasted Apple French Toast!
Premium pricing: What’s it worth to you?
As consumers (and business owners), we’re calculating the value of products and experiences all the time. When prices rise, we look harder at what we’re getting for our money. In that vein, it’s important for restaurants to make sure their patrons feel they’re getting a good value in spite of today’s elevated menu prices. Substituting something they love (roasted vegetables) in place of the same-old (steamed vegetables) can help you do just that.
1 Datassential MenuTrends, 2021
2 Datassential SNAP™, 2018